Casey Capers - USA

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Vol. 22 No. 3 - 31 May, 2018

1 May, we were rolling early to drive around Washington, DC to miss peak hour traffic, and it worked.  Lots of traffic still, but we did not get held up.

Arrived at our first delivery early at United Rentals, but they unloaded the small forklift as soon as they had their crews and equipment dispatched and out of the way.  That made it possible to deliver the second forklift to Sunbelt Rentals in North Syracuse, New York, at 4.30pm the same day.
Weather was much warmer this trip to New York!

That night we stayed at a small truckstop near Binghamton, NY close to the next load.  There was a small bar nearby called Beer Thirty, that was an interesting place for dinner and a beer.  It was "taco Tuesday", so we had tacos!
Loaded at American Pipe and Plastic in Kirkwood, NY the next morning - just three skids, two of pipe (conduit) and one small skid of elbows.  A nice light load headed south to Florida.
Conduit at American Pipe and Plastic, Kirkwood, NY.
Kirkwood, New York to Georgia and Florida.

A skid of corners - slippery and required constant tightening of the straps.
Spring time always brings out the insects!


Delivered two skids (the white conduit) to a telephone company A T & T in Albany, Georgia on Thursday afternoon and the skid of grey conduit to A T & T in Jacksonville, Florida on Friday morning,  Back to the house in Daytona Beach by early afternoon.

Jim and I had been in Daytona more than usual so far this year, and had caught up on all the jobs, so this time had the opportunity to attend a local baseball game.
The Daytona Tortugas are a minor league baseball team.  Previously known as the Daytona Cubs (1994-2014), in 2015 they became affiliated with the Cleveland Reds of the Major League Baseball, and their name changed to Daytona Tortugas.

The team plays in the Florida State League (FSL), their home field is Radiology Associated Field at Jackie Robinson Ballpark.  The ballpark opened in 1914, and seats 5,100 fans.
The historic ballpark was first known as Daytona City Island Ballpark and opened on 4 June 1914. The present day grandstand with a press box was built in 1962.  The Ballpark was renamed Jackie Robinson Ballpark in 1989 as the stadium served as host to the first racially integrated game in baseball history.
The Brooklyn Dodgers started Jackie Robinson at first base on April 15, 1947.  He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.  In 2013, the movie 42, about Jackie Robinson and the racial integration of professional baseball - he wore number 42 jersey through his Major League career.

It was 4 May – Star Wars Day.  It is jokingly said, “May the 4th be with you”, in reference to the popular phrase in Star Wars movie (May the force be with you).  Four Star Wars characters were on the field and one of them threw the first pitch.
We had good seats - up high, but behind home plate.
The mascot for the Tortugas is Shelldon - he wandered around the field and in the stands for photos with fans.  His girlfriend, Shellby showed up as well.

Shelldon stopped by.
The Tortugas won against the Lakeland Flying Tigers 5-4.  

Australian friends, John and Helen  arrived Saturday afternoon, 5th May (I went to high school with Helen).  They had been in the USA for five weeks already, starting in Los Angeles, California and worked their way to Daytona Beach.
That evening we took a leisurely walk in our neighbourhood - to the Ocean Walk, Bandshell, Boardwalk and to Main Street.  Margaritas (for Cinco de Mayo) and beers at the Tiki Hut Bar on Main Street.
Main Street was closed to traffic for a Cinco de Mayo festival - food, drinks, music and entertainment.


This little horse rides in a specially made side car.




Then to Sunsetters Bar and Grill for dinner and the 'sunset' - it was overcast, and we did not see the sun - but toasted anyway!
Sunday, it was raining so indoor activities had to be planned.  A good day for the Flea Market.  Had funnel cakes and coffees, and wandered for a couple of hours.
Bass Pro Shops is a great place to hang out during a rainy day.  This is the front entrance.

Sunday evening we enjoyed a Dine and Cruise on the Halifax River, on a paddle boat the Lady Dolphin - it was overcast but not raining.


We saw some dolphins and lots of bird life.


This is DJ's Deck from the River - I have always taken photos from the shore at DJ's Deck towards the river.

Monday, 7 May was sunny and dry!  First tourist stop filled in the morning - the Daytona International Speedway.  Jim and I had not taken a tour of the track since the multi million dollar upgrade, so were eager to check it out.

The track was built in 1959 by NASCAR founder William “Bill” France, Sr.  His banked design permitted higher speeds and gave fans a better view of the cars.  Lights were installed around the track in 1998.  The Speedway has been renovated three times, with the infield in 2004 and the track repaved in 1978 and 2010.

The most recent – a three year project costing $400 million – redesigned entrances, more seating, restrooms and concession stands.  Now 101,000 permanent seats in the stands, with the ability to increase to 125,000.  This project was finished before Speed Weeks in Feb 2016.







The start/finish line at Daytona International Speedway.






The Motorsports Hall of Fame was great - so much to see!




After the Speedway tour and on our way to DeLand to see Lis and Harvey, we were early so stopped at Persimmon Hollow Brewery in DeLand.
Then to Brian's BBQ to have dinner with Lis and Harvey and it was Monday nickel beers.  Great food, and conversation.  Enjoyed it!
Nickel Beer night - four beers for 20 cents!
Tuesday morning we were up and rolling early - 420 miles (676km) to Key West - takes about 8 hours with going through the highly populated Miami.  Jim drove it in one day, and other than petrol stops, and a snack - we got to the keys just after lunch time.

Internet: The Florida Keys are a string of tropical islands stretching about 120 miles off the southern tip of Florida, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.
The first Key is Key Largo, Helen's photo of the welcome sign taken out the car window.
We stopped for a beer break on Big Pine Key at No Name Bar.  Jim and I had not been there for 13 years - it is an interesting place.
$1 notes are stapled all over the walls, ceiling, bar - everywhere!
Internet:  The history of the No Name Pub goes back to 1931 when it was a general store and bait and tackle shop.  In 1936, the owners added a small room to the main structure which became a restaurant and pub.  Early customers were from all walks of life - travellers to local fishermen.  The late 1930’s, in an effort to increase business, the upstairs storage room was converted into a Brothel.
The 1940s saw the end of the Brothel and beginning of a real Keys landmark.  Ladies would do their shopping in the general store, and the men would browse the bait and tackle shop, then kick back and have a beer and sandwich in the eatery
By the mid 1950s, the general store and bait and tackle shop closed and the Pub became the No Name Pub and a popular Keys hangout.
The honky tonk had an atmosphere of drinking, shooting pool and great food.  Crowds often grew so crowded that customers would spill out into the back yard where dice, crap and card games were participated in.
In the 1960s, two cooks from Italy brought their pizza recipe to the Pub, and over 50 years later the recipe is still used.
The 1970s and 80s became a rowdy time.  There was a lot of illegal money passing through the Keys back then and everyone loved to spend it.  They had so much money they started hanging it on the walls – a tradition that continues.
As the new millennium arrived, the rowdies grew up and the No Name Pub became a place to enjoy great food, cold beer and good conversation.  "A nice place if you can find it!"


Helen wrote our names on a $1 and stapled it to the wall where we had been sitting.



The No Name Bar is very cool.
Big Pine Key is also a sanctuary for the endangered Key Deer, the smallest white-tailed deer in North America only found on a few of the Florida Keys.
As we left No Name Pub, there were several in house yards.  We got to see them up close.
That was a nice surprise!
A bit cloudy, and rain storms forecast for that evening as we entered Key West.
Entering Key West - Helen's photo out the car window.
Two night accommodation was booked at Author's Guest House, not far from the central tourist district.  Jim and I had stayed there two years ago and enjoyed it.

Our room was the Hellman room, to the left of the swimming pool.  John & Helen had the Audubon room which was above ours.  The rooms at Authors Guest House are named for authors that lived in or spent extended time in the Florida Keys.

Lillian Florence Hellman was an American dramatist and screenwriter known for her success as a playwright on Broadway, as well as her left-wing sympathies and political activism.  She is best known for classics – The Little Foxes, The Children’s Hour, and Watch on the Rhine.

John James Audubon Internet:  Audubon’s complete Ornithological Biography consisted of five volumes published between 1832 and 1839 and contain over 3000 pages.  The Biography contains detailed accounts of all birds pictured in Birds of America together with each bird’s history, habits and habitat and technical descriptions of the bird.   Many people believe that Audubon’s Birds of America is the greatest illustrated book ever produced.
Audubon’s journey in the Florida Keys and Key West in 1832 and observations he made at the time, have contributed greatly to an historic appreciation of the Florida Keys.

The first afternoon on Key West, we walked to the Wharf area, passed some interesting Key West buildings.



It started raining, we stopped at the Wharf Brewery to wait for the storm to pass.  Had a lovely dinner there.  Still raining lightly, so we enjoyed the sunset from there.





Walked back to the Guesthouse.
Interesting picket fence with conch cut outs.

Authors Guest House provide a lovely continental style breakfast in the garden.
We had a few Key West attractions to check out, so a full day was planned.
Gingerbread men trim on this house.



Key West lighthouse.
Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum.  Website:  Nestled in the heart of Old Town Key West, this unique property was home to one of Americas most honored and respected authors.  Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote here for more than ten years. Calling Key West home, he found solace and great physical challenge in the turquoise waters that surround this tiny island.
Step back in time and visit the rooms and gardens that witnessed the most prolific period of this Nobel Prize winner’s writing career.


Website:  The Hemingway home was built in 1851 in the Spanish Colonial style, and was constructed of native rock hewn from the grounds.  The massive restoration and remodeling the Hemingways undertook in the early 1930’s turned the home into the National Historical Landmark that thousands visit and enjoy.
The beautiful grounds were being set up for a wedding.




The master bed can only be slept on by Hemingways' cats (Helen's photo.)
Hemingways' writing room and his typewriter.
Hemingway had a cat named Snowball - she was polydactyl.  All the cats at Ernest Hemmingway’s house are the off spring of Snowball (there are approx. 54) and many are polydactyl.
Internet:  A polydactyl is a congenital physical anomaly that causes more than the usual number of toes on one or more of its paws.  Most commonly on the front paws only.
They look like little mittens! About half the cats at the museum are polydactyl but all carry the gene.


A six-toed - polydactyl cat.


A cat water 'bowl' in the garden is actually a urinal from a local restaurant.
Fresh concrete was obviously visited by some of the cats.

A unique and extraordinary feature of the grounds is the pool, built in 1937-38, at the staggering cost of $20,000.  It was the first in-ground pool in Key West.
The buoy that marks the southern most point of the USA.
Interesting buildings




We visited the Mel Fisher Treasure Maritime Museum.   Website:  Mel Fisher was a dreamer, a visionary, a legend and most importantly, the world’s greatest treasure hunter.  We carry on Mel’s dream of sharing with the public the priceless historical and cultured heritage that these treasures represent.  We continue to actively search for and recover the remaining lost treasure of the Atocha and the Santa Margarita while also searching for other yet to be discovered shipwrecks.




Several interesting sculptures near Mallory Square.
Mallory Square before it gets busy prior to the sun setting.

Wednesday was the first evening of the Key West Songwriters Festival – while waiting for the sunset, we enjoyed live music at Margaritaville Resort.
Website:  The Key West Songwriters Festival – celebrating its 23rd year.  Since 1997 it has grown into both a tourist attraction and favourite of island locals.  The festival revolves around five days and nights where live music introduces crowds to the faces, voices and stories behind the songs.


Lots of crowds for the free concerts and the sunset at Mallory Square.
The sailboats are added features in sunset photos.






Two floating tiki huts enjoying the sunset.

Had dinner at Two Friends Restaurant - Conch Fritters.

We left Key West about 9am, Thursday morning - our aim was to be somewhere to watch the rocket launch from Cape Canaveral scheduled for 4.12 pm that afternoon.
Stopped for a quick photo on the eastern side of the Seven-miles Bridge.  This area was severely affected from Hurricane Irma last year - nothing like the last time we were there.
Seven-Mile Bridge from Marathon Key, hard to see behind the construction fence.
Little lizard thought we could not see him.
First stop about 4pm at Melbourne Beach, Sebastian Inlet Grill.  Had an early dinner there and waited for the rocket launch - then it was postponed for an hour.
Sebastian Inlet Grill - but no rocket launch.
From Melbourne Beach looking north towards Cape Canaveral.
Decided to stop near Cocoa Beach, and wait for the next time to launch - launch aborted.  Scheduled for the next day.

North towards Cape Canaveral - no rocket launched.
Titusville, Florida - bridge before Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge.

Stopped at an observation area near Cape Canaveral, the rocket on the launch pad was visible from the western side - this is from the southern side of the vehicle assemble building.
On the way back to the house we stopped at Haulover Canal on Merritt Island to see if any manatee were in the canal.  It was near sunset, but there were two!

Manatees at Haulover Canal.




That was a another big day - driving from Key West to Daytona Beach.
We were up early Friday morning, 11 May to go on the Gator Airboat Ride at DeLeon Springs.  Our one hour ride in and around Woodruff Lake was great - Captain Josh knew the area very well and we saw many alligators, bird life, a few bald eagles, manatees and plant life.


"Spanish Moss" in the trees.












Lots of baby alligators!



It was a very interesting tour!
The Spacex Falcon Rocket launched on Friday afternoon at 4.14pm.  We were at the Oasis Tiki Bar to watch it. Jimmy was in Daytona for the day.




Spacex debuted a more reusable, high-thrust model of the Falcon 9 rocket, hauling Bangladesh’s first communications satellite into orbit from Florida’s Space Coast.  The “Block 5” model is getting closer to launching NASA astronauts.
Contrail of the Falcon Rocket launched on 11 May, 2018.
Saturday morning we headed north to Flagler Beach for breakfast at the Funky Pelican on the Flagler Pier.
An overcast day, but no rain.

Headed further north to St Augustine.  St. Augustine claims to be the oldest city in the US, and is known for its Spanish colonial architecture.

St Augustine Welcome Centre.
We purchased tickets on the red tourist train that stopped at all the tourist attractions, and we could hop on or hop off when ever we wanted to check something out.
Moss on a magnolia tree.
First stop off on our tour of St Augustine was the Castillo de San Marcos - a 17th century Spanish stone fortress with views of the St. Augustine inlet.
Internet:  107 years after the city’s founding, when Florida was part of the Spanish Empire - the first coquina stones were laid in 1672 and completed in 1695, though it would undergo many alterations over the centuries.
Possession of the fort has changed six times, all peaceful, among four different governments:  the Spain 1695-1763 and 1783-1821, Kingdom of Great Britain, 1763-1783, and the United States of America, 1821-date (during 1861-1865, under the control of the Confederate of the United States.)




The thickness of the walls in the fort.





A cannon was fired!
The fort was declared a National Monument in 1924, and after 251 years of continuous military possession, was deactivated in 1933.  The 20 acre site was subsequently turned over to the US National Park Service.  In 1942 the original name, Castillo de San Marcos, was restored.
Magnolia Street, is actually Live Oak trees.

On Magnolia Avenue is Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park.  Located where the original Fountain Of Youth was discovered in 1513, this educational site tells the story of St Augustine’s origins.  The park is huge, with exhibits and demonstrations.  We saw the Planetarium, that shows how early travelers navigated using the stars.  Also, the Discovery Globe shows the routes of the explorers to the new world.


The Spring House for a glass of Ponce de Leon’s Spring of Eternal Hope.
Spanish explorers marked discovered lands by laying a cross depicting the year of discovery.  The cross uncovered in St Augustine near the Fountain of Youth shows 15 stones on the vertical, and 13 across - the year 1513.


An Indian village.
Dozens of peacocks and peahens roam the park,


Two peacocks and a squirrel between them!

Travelling via the Red Train Tour.

Sunday afternoon we checked out the historic North Turn Restaurant and Museum in Ponce Inlet.
Website:  Racing’s North Turn Restaurant and Racing Museum sits on the exact location where racing history began in Daytona Beach.  The Races took place on the beach starting in 1936 until World War II and then continued with the first Grand National Race in 1948.  These great race cars ran right here outside the door of Racing’s North Turn each year until 1958, when NASCAR relocated to the brand new Speedway.

Racing’s North Turn Restaurant has gone through many changes over the years, but one thing holds firm – the history of this site holds the key to racing's past.  As of Feb 15, 2007, Racing’s North Turn Restaurant was recognized as a Historic Landmark.






Hidden Treasure Rum Bar and Restaurant was our choice for dinner - our last dinner with John and Helen until back in Australia.
The restaurant lighthouse with the real Ponce Inlet Lighthouse in the background.
Hidden Treasure Rum Bar and Restaurant for Sunday evening dinner.



There was a pelican on each post - until the fishing boast came in.



Monday, 14 May, was an early start to take John and Helen to Orlando Airport for their flight to Boston, Massachusetts.  We had a great time with them in Florida.  Rain was forecast for the rest of the week for Daytona, so we lucked out with nice weather while they visited us.
Jim had a few repair jobs to do on the truck, so we stayed a few more days at the house.

Jim and I left Daytona Beach early on the Friday morning 18 May.  Overcast and showers all the way.

Loaded at JCB, INC in Pooler, Georgia - an easy load, one loadall forklift.
Pooler, Georgia to Worcester, Massachusetts.
An easy weekend driving, to deliver at United Rentals, then to Shrewsbury only 15 miles to load at a Sunbelt Rentals, one boom lift. It was well used, and was to be refurbished in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
There was space on the rear of the trailer, so on the way we loaded an LTL (partial) shipment near Millersburg, Ohio.  Off the highway quite a bit, on narrow, windy roads.  Loaded a small John Deere tractor from an Amish community.  The tractor had been sold on an online auction.

We loaded near the horse yard.


Genie lift from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts to Oklahoma City; the tractor from Millersburg, Ohio to Hutchinson, Kansas.
The Amish mail delivery lady and her horse and buggy mail 'truck'.
Jim drove very slowly past the horse - the big trucks would be rather terrifying for them.
An easy and uneventful drive to deliver the tractor the next day in Hutchinson, Kansas - to another Amish community.
Early morning start to deliver first thing to the Terex Co., in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on Thursday morning.


Some of the forklifts at Terex, Oklahoma City - a large company. 
 Our next load was 200 miles south to Mineral Wells, Texas.  We had the remainder of the day to get there, so chose some back roads we had not been on before - west of the Interstate highway.  It was a great drive - many things I would have liked to photograph, but did not because I did not know what was coming up. Acres of old rusting cars and trucks probably from the 1940's and newer.  Rush Springs, Oklahoma is the "Watermelon Capital of the World" (self proclaimed!) and a large watermelon outside of town announcing that.  We did stop for brunch at Chisholm Corner, near Duncan, Oklahoma. 
 A locals restaurant, that had truck parking.  Very interesting!  Old car parts and old West antiques decorated The "Y "Cafe.

This one is blurry, but I noticed the "It Ain't Food If It Ain't Fried" sign.
The backs of the benches are old pick up truck tailgates.

Experienced the sunrise leaving Weatherford, Texas - about 12 miles to Mineral Wells, Texas to load at Cantex Inc.  


Website:  Cantex offers a complete line of PVC electrical products.  With billions of electrical appliances plugged in each day, Cantex PVC electrical products are working behind the walls or encased in the concrete foundations of most homes and businesses, or buried along the roadways.  With over 60 years   in manufacturing American made electrical products, Cantex Inc. has a proven track record, and is a nationwide manufacturer of non-metallic electrical conduit, fittings, accessories, utility and communications duct, directional boring conduit and residential switch and outlet boxes.
Mineral Wells, Texas to Auburndale, Florida.
Pipe is cool!


The bayous of Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana
Crossing the Mississippi River at Baton Rouge Port Authority.


Internet:  The Port of Greater Baton Rouge is the tenth largest port in the US, in terms of tonnage shipped and is the northernmost port on the Mississippi River capable of handling Panamax ships.
Sunrise at the Louisiana/Mississippi state line.


A couple of full days driving to get to Daytona Beach on the Saturday evening, 26 May.  We had been on the road for 9 days.
It was the Memorial Day long weekend (Monday holiday). The first named storm for the 2018 Hurricane Season - Subtropical Storm Alberto had formed in the Gulf of Mexico.  Hurricane Season officially starts on 1 June - so it is a week early.  Rain was forecast for a week - not good for all the Memorial Day activities planned for Central Florida.
The Daytona Tortugas were playing that night too - this is the advertisement on Beach Street at the western end of the International Speedway Boulevard (ISB) bridge.  People walking to the baseball field with umbrellas.
Caught up with some friends in the area, Jimmy was in town as well.  Dinner with Linda, John, Derek, and Jimmy at Porta Fina, Italian restaurant in South Daytona on Sunday night.
The weather cleared a little on Monday afternoon - briefly!  A series of storms kept rolling over.  We visited a new bar, LandShark Bar & Grille on A1A, in South Daytona.  It has been open about 5 months, close to the beach.




The tiki bar beside the restaurant.

On Thursday, 31 May, we had a couple of appointments in New Smyrna Beach, and afterwards tried a restaurant on Canal Street, Cork Screw, we had not been there before - we liked it.
Cork Screw Bar and Grille, in New Smyrna Beach - photo stolen from their website.
Great decor!  I loved the light 'shades' made out of empty wine bottles.


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